October 28, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve
First time I heard Atlantis was late 2007, early 2008. Anyway, it was winter, it was cold and I played Carpe Omnium, the debut of then Tilburg resident Gilson Heitinga. This dark and heavy layered post rock took influences from the Bristol triphop-scene, the heavy weights on Neurot Recordings and the repetition of indie rock demigods The Godmachine, just to combine them in a very unique atmospheric and discomforting whole that fitted temperature and landscape outside of my own Tilburg living room.
A sound that could only originate in a bleak has been industrial city as my own. A town that I love, and thus I loved Carpe Omnium, an album which of course is not a reflection of Tilburg, but the brain child of Heitinga. This a complex and multidimensional piece. To emphasise its complexity one must point out that Atlantis live is nothing close to a solo-project. Nowadays, two EPs and a second full length later, Atlantis performs as a six pieces, guitars, synths, drums, bass guitar and with all the necessary digital side equipment under twelve hands, a hunderd-and-twenty fingers, all in full motion . On the records, though, Atlantis remained and remains the sole vehicle of Heitinga.
Omens, the third record of Atlantis is nothing new in that sense. Heavier on the industrial doom then predecessor Mistress of Ghosts, the composer guides us through a disruptive landscape, where deep mournful guitars and wailing synthesisers create a thick wall of sound, doom metal, industrial and shoegaze combined in one. The Most important differences though is the introduction of real live drums, through out the whole album. Unlike on the other records Atlantis is not dragged forward by drum computers and other electronic beat sound devices, but by a living and breathing machine that paces through the atmospheric electronics, shrieking noise and slow shredding and repeating metal riffs.
Thus, Omens is closer to the sound of the live band Atlantis, which always was louder, maybe even more aggressive then the records. Furthermore, it gives this record a more face-forward attitude. As does the introduction of real life copper in “Raptor”. The warmth of the trumpet contrasts with the aggressive, almost cold electronics of the synthesisers and the guitars in away that makes you grasp for breath. Moreover, it’s a call to arms.
The record also boasts guest musicians, the most notably being Sanne Mus. The former singer of RubyQ sings in both the longest atmospheric piece – the fifteen minute long “And She Drops The Seventh Veil” – of Omens and in the closer and title track of the record, “Omen”, bringing both songs to a higher level with a dark but jazzy twist in between deep throated gut ripping demonic grunts. Her voice circles around you like a warm protective tornado a midst a storm of destruction and devastation.
Chapters in a long play that has to be listened to in one go. Not that the songs cannot survive alone, but they are clearly puzzle pieces in a bigger picture that work better when all stuck together. Omens – the bigger picture of a hellish permafrost world, where there are many warning signs. Return, turnaround, save yourself. But you just let yourself get pulled in to the throbbing heart of the record, “Widowmaker”. An instrumental ten minute long mantra that must be experienced with the eyes closed and the upper body rocking in a praying movement. To whom to pray? No clue, I have (Yoda style). Lost but we are…………..
Omens is yet another highlight in the seven year career of Atlantis, hopefully not as missed out on by the Dutch indie press as the previous diamonds of darkness. With such a great discography, I must say, it is shocking that the band plays more and bigger shows abroad, just to circle in the shadows and world of opening acts in the Netherlands. Hopefully Omens will set a change to that.